Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Democratic senators urge Defense Secretary to protect service members’ abortion rights

A group of Democratic senators sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin urging him to actively implement measures to protect abortion rights for service members if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade. gave.

In the letter, senators led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.N.Y.) presented the opinion of a recently leaked Supreme Court draft in which conservative justices voted to overturn a landmark 1973 ruling that had allowed abortion at the federal level. rights guaranteed.

Senators warned that hundreds of thousands of soldiers, dependents and Defense Department civilians stationed in states with abortion restrictions would lose access to reproductive health care and potentially face criminal prosecution if the Supreme Court’s final opinion is similar to the leaked draft.

“As the leader of our military services, it is up to you to maintain the health and well-being of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians,” the senators wrote. “As our country faces a possible rollback of individual rights, what are you and your employees doing in preparation to protect the health and welfare of those under your command? What steps will you take to help service members who need an abortion?”

The senators advised Austin to “at least” consider policy changes that would allow service members to have “special freedoms or permissible temporary additional fee permissions to travel out-of-state for reproductive health care and abortions.” able” if they are stationed in a jurisdiction. which restricts those rights.

“A soldier at Fort Drum would retain his personal autonomy while a soldier at Fort Hood would not. A service member who was raped by his supervisor in Mississippi, Kentucky, or Oklahoma would not be allowed to have an abortion in those states,” the senators said. wrote. “In places like Missouri, legislators have sought to ban abortions even for ectopic pregnancies, with a service member or their dependent facing the option of death or criminal activity.”

“This result would violate the faith service members’ place in the armed forces when they take an oath to defend the Constitution,” he continued.

In addition to Gillibrand, censors on the letter were Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jean Shaheen (D-Ill.) D.N.H.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.) and Angus King (I-Men). Gillibrand has a years-long history of advancing the Defense Department to better protect service members in the event of sexual assault.

A Defense Department spokesperson did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment on the letter.

The letter came a day after Republicans again barred the Senate from moving the Women’s Health Protection Act, which in Roe v. Wade would have codified.


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